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Living on the Edge: Exploring Economic Reality in Cook County

“Living on the Edge: Exploring Economic Reality in Cook County” is a year long project that takes a broad look at the economic issues facing our community. Through this series WTIP delves into the challenges we face as a community and as individuals when trying to make ends meet.

Funding for this project was provided by the                                                
Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

What's On:
The Cedar Grove Business Park in Grand Marais, photo by Carah Thomas

Living on the Edge: Part 11

Finalcut_Cedar_Grove_20100216.mp36.9 MB

One way communities often try and grow their local economy is through business development. It was in this spirit that the county and city first started talking about developing a business park. The hope was to create a place for growing business to expand and also a place that would potentially attract new businesses to the area. There was even hope that the developed area would increase the number of non-tourist based jobs. But, what if you built a park and nobody came? That’s part of what’s happened at the Cedar Grove Business Park in Grand Marais. WTIP’s Carah Thomas has this report in our ongoing series “Living on the Edge: Exploring Economic Reality in Cook County.”

Patty Nordahl with kids at the Cooperation Station in Grand Marais, photographed by Carah Thomas.

Living on the Edge: Part 9 and 10

Finalcut_Healthcare_20100118.mp310.51 MB

The landscape of healthcare has certainly changed in the last ten years. Across the country, people and businesses have sustained dramatic increases in costs. This trend holds true in Cook County, where rising prices have made it difficult for people to cope.


Living on the Edge: Part 7 and 8

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There’s no question that the recession has had an impact locally. The use of social services are up, unemployment is high, and many local business with deep roots in the community are feeling the pinch.


Living on the Edge: Part 5 and 6

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Demand for food assistance has surged in Cook County in the last year. Thirty-three percent of the county’s school aged children are on the free and reduced price lunch program. With local unemployment at an 18 year high, organizations that offer assistance with food are increasingly busy.


Living on the Edge: Parts 3 and 4

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Affordable housing has been an issue in Cook County for years whether it’s finding a secure rental or buying a home. There’s a discrepancy between incomes and what the average home price is in Cook County. The average wage falls behind both Lake and St. Louis County at just $23,000 a year. Compare that to the average home price at $281,000 and you can start to see how hard it is for folks working in the community to afford a place of their own.


Living on the Edge: Part 2

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Wages in Cook County fall behind both Lake and St. Louis County. The average yearly wage here is about $23,000. Contrast that with Lake County at $29,000 and St. Louis County at $31,000 a year and the difference is notable. Many county residents maintain more than one job, switch employers with the season, and use a variety of creative strategies just to stay afloat.


Living on the Edge: Part 1

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It is no secret. Cook County is a beautiful place. With the boundary waters and Lake Superior, the environment is spectacular. But there is another side to this place, beyond all the natural beauty. One where families struggle to get by—a side where people choose between paying for healthcare and putting food on the table.